Protective Orders

A protective order is an order enforceable by law, that bans or limits the contact between two or more individuals.  The family code and penal code of Texas regulate protective orders. Protective orders are beneficial for victims of family violence. Protective orders involving family violence can go into effect immediately.  The protective order hearing process can get complicated, especially if you are not sure how to navigate it.  Consult with a family law attorney if you require legal advice on how protective orders work.

Brownsville Family Law Attorney for Protective Orders

Protective orders are taken seriously under Texas law.  If you want to initiate the process of asking for a protective order and need representation, contact our attorneys at The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. . Whether you are asking for a temporary or permanent protective order, a hearing must be had to allow both the petitioner and the respondent the opportunity to present evidence and arguments so that the court can determine whether to grant or deny the request.

At The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. , we are committed to your case at every step of the way.  You need to have substantial evidence at the protective order hearing to prove that the request for protective order is valid.  You should not go through the protective order hearing on your own.  Our Brownsville-based attorneys can represent you in your case.

Consult with one of our attorneys at 956-504-2211 or fill out a free case review form at the bottom of the page.  We work with clients in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy.

Overview of Protective Orders

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Grounds for Protective Orders

Family violence or domestic violence, including dating violence, alongside other threatening actions of an individual, are cases that usually constitute a high level of protection and urgency.  A protective order for urgent family violence can be issued as a Magistrates Order of Emergency Protection, Temporary Ex Parte Order, or permanent protective order and is based upon a combination of various threatening actions including but not limited to stalking, physical harm, injury, assault, or sexual assault.

Family violence protective orders can be filed by either child or adult victim applicant or an adult in an effort of protecting the child applicant.  An attorney or the Department of Family and Protective Services can also file a family violence protective order on behalf of the victim applicant.  However, a court can choose to instill a protection order within certain situations, including divorce, an arrest made on family, or dating violence.  A court can also apply for two separate protective orders with the same injunctions to both parties.

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Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection (MOEP)

Unlike other protective orders, a Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection (MOEP) is usually issued following an arrest.  For the protection of the victim, the criminal court system, as opposed to the family court, serves the accused with a Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection.  The victim does not need to be present in court for this type of order.  A victim can always request a Magistrate’s order of Emergency protection themselves; however, it can only be done following an arrest.

A Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection is only temporarily served, up to 61-91 days, unless a permanent order of protection is followed in the period after.  In a hearing for a permanent protective order application, a previous Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection can be a substantial judgment in favor of a permanent protection order.  At the hearing, both parties would have the opportunity to contest the petition for a permanent protection order.

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Family Violence Temporary Ex Parte Order

A Temporary Ex Parte Order needs to be petitioned by the victim or his or her legal representative.  Similar to a MOEP, if there is reason to believe the petitioner may be in continued danger, the court can grant a Temporary Ex Parte Order immediately.  Since a Temporary Ex Parte Order is awarded based on an application, not an arrest, the court can grant a Temporary Ex Parte Order for the time being, up to 20-40 days, until a hearing takes place.

A defendant to the protective order is served with a citation for a Temporary Ex Parte Order, including the date of the order’s expiration.  The notice includes a set a date for the hearing where he or she has the opportunity to defend himself or herself against a potential permanent protective order.

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Permanent Protective Orders

Tex. Fam. Code § 85.001 states: (a) At the close of a hearing on an application for a protective order, the court shall find whether:

(1) family violence has occurred; and

(2) family violence is likely to happen in the future.

Tex. Fam. Code § 85.006(a) also states, “A court may render a protective order that is binding on a respondent who does not attend a hearing if the respondent received service of the application and notice of the hearing.”

When the hearing takes place, the court can decide whether to grant a permanent protective order against the parties in question or dissolve the case.  The court has to include the period for which the protective order is to be active.  Most permanent protective orders are not to exceed two years or past the second anniversary of the date on which the law became effective.  However, a felony offense or injury resulting from family violence can be the reason for the court to extend past the regular two year or second anniversary period.  Having a history of multiple protective orders can also warrant an extension of the standard period.

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Injunctions of Protective Orders

Tex. Fam. Code § 85.021 and Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022 establish the defendant who was found to have committed family violence can be prohibited from the following:

  • Committing family violence;
  • Communicating with the victim or his or her family or household member;
  • Threatening the victim or his or her family or household member;
  • Going to or near the victim’s place of employment, residence, or business;
  • Going to or near the victim’s family or household member’s place of work, residence, or business;
  • Going near a child named in the order’s school or child-care facility;
  • Possessing a firearm (except for a peace officer);
  • Tampering with property, including community property, co-owned or co-leased with the victim unless it’s for usual business reasons;
  • Going near the victim’s or his or her family or household member’s pet or service animal;
  • Stalking the victim or his or her family or household member; or
  • Engaging in threatening behavior addressed directly at the victim or his or her family or household member.

The court has to put the location and distances the defendant must abide by on their protective orders unless the victim, his/her family, or a household member feel that it breaches confidentiality.  Furthermore, the court may order the defendant who was found to have committed family violence during a hearing to complete a battering intervention and prevention program or counseling or complete an application with a similar statute as part of the order.

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Following the Hearing

A defendant for a protective order can file a motion for a review of the protective order no earlier than the protective order’s first anniversary.  If an action is filed, the court holds a hearing to review the need for a continuation of the protection order.  If the permanent protective order’s period lasts more than two years, the defendant can file a second motion one year after filing the first motion.  Not violating the law in itself is most likely unable to constitute as a reason for dismissal of order.  The defendant will have to show a viable defense to support the dismissal of the order.

The petitioner can choose to modify his or her protection order to include or remove another clause.  However, a modification for a permanent protective order must go through a hearing to approve or deny the changes.  An out-of-state protective order is honored; however, different states can have different laws for their enforcement.  Tex. Fam. Code § 86.003 establishes protective orders violations can have harsh penalties, including a fine and an offense punishable up to incarceration.  Protective orders can also be enforceable through law enforcement.

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Additional Resources

Texas Courts | Protective Orders – To learn more information about protective orders in the state of Texas, visit the Texas courts website.  The protection orders addressed in this document are mostly targeted to victims of family violence.  You can view the application form for protective orders to get an idea of the types of questions that exist within the application.

Cameron County Sheriff’s Office | Domestic Violence Orders – Cameron County Sheriff’s Office provides specific information and contact resources for victims of domestic violence and protective orders for them.  Within the page, you can also find additional resources, including a safety plan for you and your family.

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Protective Orders Attorney in Cameron County, Texas

If you are dealing with family/domestic violence, a protective order may what you need to ensure your safety.  A family law attorney can petition the court for a protective order in your name.  In order for the court to make a final decision in your request for a protective order, you must provide evidence to support your case.  If the other party has retained legal counsel to represent the at the protective order hearing, it is highly advised that you retain counsel as well.  At The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. , we will defend your rights during the hearing and make sure your concerns are addressed with the court.

Protective orders exist to protect individuals from danger, and we want to make sure you are protected.  Dealing with protective orders in family law cases can get complicated when two parties are dealing with additional problems in their case.  Talk to our attorneys for more information.

Call 956-504-2211 to receive a free consultation or fill out a free case review form at the bottom of the page.  We work with clients from Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties.